Tag Archives: Legislative Petitions

- “What’s in a name?”

As Juliet Capulet asked, “What’s in a name?” Well, for some Virginians of centuries past, quite a lot. So much so that a few staff members began keeping a list of interesting names discovered while working on the public service desks at the Library of Virginia. Soon, other staff members in the archival processing sections began contributing interesting and unusual names to the list.

We thought these names were too good to keep to ourselves, so we started posting them to the Library’s Twitter feed under the hashtags #FunnyNames #FromTheArchives.  We share these in the spirit of good fun and hope you’ll enjoy the interesting array of monikers. Who knows, maybe the posts can help revive period names like Elmadoras and Waldegrave and liven up roll call in Virginia’s schools.

-Vince Brooks, Senior Local Records Archivist… read more »

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- Latest Digital Images of Legislative Petitions Now Available


Account of the services of slave Cuffy during the Revolutionary War, Petition of Eleanor Bowery, 1788, Elizabeth City County, Legislative Petitions to the Virginia General Assembly, State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia.

Digital images of Legislative Petitions to the Virginia General Assembly, 1776 to 1865, from Bath County through Essex County are now available on Virginia Memory, the Library of Virginia’s digital collections website. The list of localities added includes present-day West Virginia counties such as Barbour, Berkeley, Boone, Braxton, Brooke, Cabell, Calhoun, and Doddridge Counties. It also includes numerous localities classified as Lost Records Localities such as Bland, Buckingham, Caroline, Charles City, Dinwiddie, and Elizabeth City Counties. With this addition, the number of legislative petitions available for viewing online currently number over 5000.

For researchers of African-American history and genealogy, the legislative petitions are an invaluable primary source on the topics of slavery, free African-Americans, and race relations prior to the Civil War. One will find petitions from slave owners seeking approval to import their slaves into the Commonwealth from another state; free African-Americans seeking permission to remain in the Commonwealth; heirs of slave owners seeking to prevent the emancipation of slaves freed by their parent’s will; free African-Americans seeking divorce from their spouse. The following are specific examples of the research potential on African-American history and genealogy that can be found in the collection.

John S. Harrison of Berkeley County petitioned the General Assembly in 1810 asking for permission to import three slaves, named Paris, Letty, and Daniel, from Maryland to Virginia. Harrison … read more »

- Remembering Craig Moore, 1971-2013



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Craig Moore, State Records Appraisal Archivist, died on August 13 after a lengthy battle with cancer.  While long time readers of Out of the Box will know Craig from his many posts, he was anonymous to most researchers conducting archival research at the Library of Virginia.  For most of Craig’s 15 years at the Library, he worked behind the scenes in the State Records section making some of the Library’s most significant collections accessible.  His work will contribute greatly to understanding the state’s history for generations.

I met Craig in 1998 when he joined the Library’s Archives Reference staff.  A year later we both started new positions in the State Records section and became “office mates.”  Craig and I shared an office which was unusual in our (then) new building.  Sharing a workspace can be a minefield of personality quirks.  For us, it worked and we became good friends.  We had similar interests (baseball, football, South Park, listening to Howard Stern, fantasy football, the music of Genesis, etc.), the same sense of humor (potty jokes made us giggle like school girls), and a love of history and our work as archivists.   We laughed at the names he would see in the records such as:  Bittle C. Keister, Reekes & Goode, Attorneys at Law, Garland P. Peed, M.I. Snoody, and many others that are … read more »

- Legislative Petition Digital Project Up and Running


Virginia General Assembly, Legislative petitions of the General Assembly, Petition of E.P. Pitts, Accomack County, 13 March 1862. State government records collection, The Library of Virginia (page one of four)

Public improvements, military claims, divorce, manumission of slaves, division of counties, incorporation of towns, religious freedom, and taxation are just some of the concerns expressed in the Library of Virginia’s collection of Legislative Petitions to the Virginia General Assembly, 1776 to 1865.  In late 2012, the Library partnered with Backstage Library Works in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to digitize the collection straight from the microfilm which was created in-house in 2002.  Work has now begun to take the 150,000  digital images, unite them with the database entries constructed on the Library’s searchable website (Legislative Petition Online Database), and make them accessible through Digitool – the Library’s digital asset management system.  Thus far, the counties from Accomack through Amelia and Appomattox through Barbour are available (Legislative Petitions on Digitool). Besides the images, these entries in Digitool provide the same information previously available on the Legislative Petition Online Database including the petitioner, date, description, and subjects.  The petitions often contain hundreds of signatures and are a useful tool in genealogical research. Frequently, the petitions contain supplementary support documents useful in research including maps, wills, naturalizations, deeds, resolutions, affidavits, judgments, and other items.

There are many noteworthy and valuable documents among the over 1,000 petitions currently digitized.  Accomack County alone includes several appeals of freed slaves for permission to remain in the state following their emancipation as required … read more »

- That’s Some Magic Bullet: Thirty-Eight Years After Revolutionary War, Bullet Exits Louisa Man’s Arm. Surfaces in Library’s Vault

Bullet removed from Edward Houchins' arm, Jamestown Exhibit Papers, Accession 42098.

Transcript of documents shown above.

Edward Houchins, a veteran of Captain Edmund Curd’s Company of Goochland Militia, petitioned the General Assembly on 10 December 1818, requesting an increase in his forty-dollar-a-year pension. According to the Louisa County resident, he was severely wounded in the arm at General Horatio Gates’s defeat at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina, in 1780. It was this very wound that allowed Houchins to successfully petition the Assembly in 1805 for his current pension. In the 1818 petition, Houchins complained of unusual pain from the lead ball that had become lodged in his arm thirty-eight years earlier. An affidavit from Richard Sandidge accompanying the petition asserts that he saw Houchins’s wife take a poultice of her husband’s arm, thereby producing the bullet. Upon further examination of the bullet, Sandidge determined that it contained pieces of bone from Houchins’s arm. As a result of this evidence, the General Assembly decided favorably on Houchins’s petition for an addition to his pension. Houchins later relocated to Mercer County, Kentucky, in 1821, collecting his pension until his death on 14 April 1846.

Edward Houchins’s petition is just one example of the more than twenty thousand legislative petitions included in the Library’s Legislative Petitions Online Database. According to a note filed with the 1818 petition, the affidavit of Richard Sandidge (containing the extracted projectile) was … read more »

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